January 14, 2018
I’m struck by some things in this reading about Samuel. Samuel keeps hearing his name called out. He knows that someone is trying to get his attention. He knows that he is being asking to do something or go somewhere.
Have you ever had that sense? That sense that you were being called and it was like an itch you couldn’t scratch or that missing word in a sentence that is on the tip of your tongue. You know what it is, you know it is there but you can’t quite figure out the source?
Samuel, Samuel, he is called and he goes to the familiar. He goes to Eli and says, you called me?
We hear this calling and we go to the familiar and when we are there, whether it be at home, at work with friends, and we try to find it there but we know that this is not the place. This is not where we are going to find out who is truly calling us and what we are truly being called to do. But we keep going back to the familiar source, to Eli.
Every time we go to Eli, we know, that is not who called me, this is not where I am being called to go or what I am being called to do. Sometimes like Samuel, it takes a few times of going to Eli before we finally give it up and take it God. I wonder what your Eli is or has been?
We want so badly for that epiphany, that clarity around what we are meant to do in this life. We hear the call, deep down we know the source, but we are too afraid to accept and acknowledge it. Because we know that if and when we do, we too will believe in God’s call on our life and we will know no other way than to follow.
And following, is dangerous, risky, unpredictable and we are very afraid.
I’ve shared this before, so I apologize if you’ve heard this before.
I’ve always heard God calling my name since I was a child. I didn’t know why but I knew God was calling me to dedicate my life to ministry in the Church, specifically the Episcopal Church.
AS I grew older this became more and more frightening. It seemed way to unpredictable, unwise, risky, full of disappointment, and I felt incredibly ill-suited to go through the rigors of seminary and the whole ordination process. So, I continued to hear this voice, “Sarah, Sarah”
Over time, I convinced myself that what was calling me was actually music and performing. Maybe this big thing God is calling to do is to be on Broadway. As scary as being priest seemed, that seemed less scary. I pursued that, went to the Eli I thought was calling my name and nothing felt right. It was fun, I love performing but something was very wrong.
Still hoping I was being called to something more predictable and safe, I found music therapy. This has to be what God has truly been calling me to, because I can use both music and ministry with this one!
This is amazing, music is one of the most powerful forms of healing and communication. I see miracles every week with my clients, who I love and adore. And yet, as right as it was, something still wasn’t right.
It wasn’t totally fitting, but man did I do everything in my power to convince myself and all the world that it was IT! What I am called to do. God can be quiet now, no more, “Sarah, Sarah”
So, then I had a night like Samuel, I will never forget. I began hearing God calling my name stronger and stronger for a period of a few months, but one night, it was so loud and so maddening. I yelled, screamed really and told God to be quiet. I can’t do it. It is too risky, I’ll never make it through seminary and the process of ordination. They will never let me be a priest and that will finish me.
If I leave this great work and these people I love to fail at this, I will be finished, my spirit will not survive. So, “give it up God”. This is the better way.
The next morning, I woke up and went to church, exhausted and beaten down. After communion, I asked for healing prayers and anointing from a couple friends in the service.
I came home, sat down and said, Here I am Lord, I am listening.
I received a message, God said, “Sarah, accept yourself for you are and who you always have been and who I created you to be. You are priest and you do want this life. Go now.”
God was right. Like Samuel it took a few times and those were important steps on the way, steps that led me to amazing friends and teachers.
God knows us. God knows us because God knit us together and those thread are bound together with God’s intention for our lives.
As Psalm 139 says, Lord, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
2 You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.
3 Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
4 You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.
5 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
12 For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
We have no need to hide anything from God, because God already knows. When I told God about my fears and reluctance and when I told God that frankly I thought that God got it wrong for me and needed to support my decisions, this communication strengthened our relationship and I learned how to hear God more clearly and trust. Relationships require work, time and effort. I know it might seem strange to be in a relationship with God who is not physically present. To talk to God when you can’t see God.
But here is the real deal. God is physically present and visible because God is in YOU.
God is that soft still voice in your own head and in your heart and in your body. We can feel God within us. God is not up there or over there in a place. God is in us.
This is from a reflection from Richard Rohr: “’God’ is living itself in you, through you, and as you! You have never been separate from God except in your mind. Can you imagine that?!
This realization is an earthquake in the brain, a hurricane in the heart, a Copernican revolution in the mind, and a monumental shift in consciousness. Yet most of us do not seem interested in it. It is too big to imagine and can only be revealed slowly.”
It is easy to see this in children. We see God so clearly in the faces of our children. Guess what we are still those children now!
Jesus says, Follow me. Are you hoping Jesus will actually follow you to the place where you think you should go or are you willing to let go of control, predictability and take the risk of living your life and follow Jesus?